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Kabbalah tree of life meaning

Tree of Life

The Tree of Life (Etz HaChaim in Hebrew) is an ancient Jewish and Kabbalistic symbol that plays a central role in the Kabbalah.  It is mentioned in many Jewish sources and is considered to be one of the central pillars of the Kabbalah.  In this article we shall give you an overview of the Tree of Life and how, when incorporated into Kabbalah Jewelry,   its power and strength are passed onto the wearer.

Did you know? In the Kabbalah, the Tree of Life is represented by a symbol known as the 10 Sephirot which depicts the 10 spiritual attributes or principles of the Creation.

Origins

The Tree of life is a common motif in many religions, cultures and mythologies around the world and is found in the ancient cultures of Iran, Egypt, China and others and in major religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.

Its most common usage is to depict, on one way or another, the Creation of our world and universe.

Its Meaning in Judaism and the Kabbalah

Man has always sought to explain the origins of his world and universe.  The Tree of Life, along with the Tree of Knowledge, is an attempt to link all creation and evolution under one universal umbrella.

In the Kabbalah, the Tree of Life represents the 10 spiritual attributes of God’s Creation.  In many representations, 11 attributes are shown.  This is explained by many who see two of the attributes, Keter and Daat as being essentially two aspects (unconscious and conscious) expressions of the same principle.

Keter (Crown) – refers to those things that are beyond our comprehension.

Daat (Knowledge) - represents a spiritual state where all of the Tree of Life’s attributes are united.

Binah (Understanding) – is seen as representing our intellectual understanding of the world.

Chokhmah (Wisdom) is associated with intuitive insight and potential.

Gevurah (Might) – Is seen as God's way of punishing the evil and judging humankind. It is the foundation of strictness, obedience to the law and justice.

Chesed (kindness, charity) – a central value of Judaism which features in many religious commandments and practices.

Tiferet (Spirituality, Compassion) - appears at the center of the Tree of Life and balances the seemingly opposing forces of Chesed and Gevurah.

Hod (Magnificence) – suggests that prayer, a form of submission to God, can also be seen as the glorification of God and his power.

Netzach (Eternity, Victory) – signifies the power to persevere, to have the fortitude to continue on our path despite the trials and tribulations we may face.

Yesod (Foundation) – Is the basis, the foundation upon which the connection may be made between one condition or state and another.

Malchut (Kingdom, majesty) – Represents the glory and the magnificence of God that emanates from His Creation.

Its Uses Through the Ages

Throughout time, the Tree of Life has symbolized man’s search for meaning and understanding of the world and our lives within it.  Its 10 sephirot represent God’s creation and man’s place and interaction within the greater scheme of things. 

It is a universal symbol signifying similar aspects of creation and God even though the actual depiction of the tree may differ from culture to culture.

In Jewish Writings

In Judaism, the Tree of Life appears in the Book of Genesis 3: 24

24 So He drove out the man [From the Garden of Eden]; and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way to the tree of life.”

It is also mentioned in the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 3: 13 – 18) in relation to wisdom:

“13Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that obtaineth understanding… 18 She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her, and happy is every one that holdest her fast.”

And in Proverbs 14:4 as a source of calm and tranquility: “A soothing tongue is a tree of life; but perverseness therein is a wound to the spirit.”

In the Kabbalah

The Book of Creation (Sefer Yetzirah) is attributed to around 400 CE and is considered to be the first known instance where the Tree of Life is referred to in writing.  Since then, the Tree of Life has played an integral and central role in the development and understanding of the Kabbalah. 

The Tree of Life features extensively in many Kabbalistic texts including the Zohar and the eight volume Tree of Life by Rabbi Isaac Luria (HaArii) (1534 – 1572) who is considered to be the father of modern Kabbalah.